Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless

Who we are

Since 1990, Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH) has provided solutions to end homelessness in Montgomery County. What initially began with three paid staff operating a loose network of emergency shelters and soup kitchens has grown to over 160 employees who serve approximately 1,600 men, women, and children each year.

MCCH provides four solutions to ensuring that homelessness is a rare, brief and nonrecurring experience:

  1. Emergency shelter to meet the needs of men and women currently experiencing homelessness;
  2. Permanent supportive housing to help formerly homeless families and single adults remain stably housed;
  3. Advocating for systemic change to create efficient and effective means of responding to homelessness in our community;
  4. Expanding the supply of affordable housing with our affiliate agency, Coalition Homes, to ensure that everyone in Montgomery County has a safe, stable and affordable place to call home.

What we do

At MCCH, we address the community’s challenge through direct services that uplift people, as well as engaging in advocacy to create real systems change. Over the course of our long history, we have built strong partnerships with local and federal government agencies, other nonprofit organizations, and a wide range of community groups to provide the best support and services for our clients.

Our work is guided by three best practices to ensure the best possible outcomes for the clients we serve:

Housing First

Based on the belief that housing is a human right, Housing First means that MCCH provides people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then helps them address the issues that led to their homelessness and provides ongoing support to ensure they never become homeless again.

Harm Reduction

Harm Reduction means that we help our clients understand that harmful behaviors, including substance use, limit their lives and the ability to thrive.

Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care is based on the recognition that experiencing homelessness for even a single night causes significant trauma to the people MCCH serves. It guides all of our interactions with clients to ensure that we don’t cause further trauma as we help them move forward in their lives.

How people make the difference

Our success is made possible through the commitment of our community. In addition to direct financial support, community members can provide essential support for our clients by preparing and serving meals at our men’s emergency shelter, collecting household essentials to ensure all clients move into homes of their own with dignity, supporting children through our annual Back to School Fair, and providing holiday gifts to our clients. 

Success Story

Andre moved to Montgomery County after a successful 17-year career as a bike messenger in Washington D.C. Andre was renting a house in Silver Spring in 2005 when he discovered it was suddenly under foreclosure.

With no other place to move that was affordable, Andre experienced homeless for the next 11 years. When Andre first fell into the experience of homelessness, he began living out of his truck. “People see that you’re homeless and no one cares about you. I’ve been assaulted, I’ve been attacked; people try to rob you,” Andre said of the experience.

Eventually Andre sought help from local service providers. It was during this time when Andre was diagnosed with a mental illness. “Forty-five years old and finding out you have a mental illness is kind of rough,” Andre explained.

Andre moved from his truck to MCCH’s emergency shelter for men, Home Builders Care Assessment Center (HBCAC), where he was put on a waiting list for housing. Though Andre received supportive services at HBCAC, he grew drained from living in a shelter. No longer able to afford the insurance payments on his truck, Andre sold his vehicle and rented a storage unit where he would live for the next year.

“If you can survive the winter in a storage unit, you can survive anything,” Andre said recently during a speech at a community event. “I kept thinking of the brave men and women who serve our country and live in conditions much worse, and it got me through.”

Eventually, Andre was contacted by a local outreach provider notifying him that he had been referred to housing through MCCH’s newly launched Keys First permanent support housing program, which provides affordable, permanent housing and on-going supportive services to chronically homeless individuals like Andre.

Today, Andre is thriving in his new home. You can hear Andre share his story and give a tour of his apartment by watching this video:

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A man in front of townhouse
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“I am grateful for MCCH’s men’s emergency shelter because when I was living outside, I was in basic survival mode and could only focus on three things – where I could sleep, where I could eat, and my basic hygiene needs. At the shelter, I don’t have to worry about those things anymore. I can focus on working with the amazing staff to find housing and move forward in my life.”
—Gary, MCCH client

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